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Histochem J. 1997 Mar;29(3):229-37.

In situ detection of spontaneous superoxide anion and singlet oxygen production by mitochondria in rat liver and small intestine.

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Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


In the present study, the endogenous formation of reactive oxygen species was localized in rat liver and small intestine. The 3,3'-diaminobenzidine (DAB)-Mn2+ technique in which cobalt ions were included in the incubation medium was applied to unfixed cryostat sections of intact tissues. Addition of manganese ions to the DAB-Co(2+)-containing medium greatly increased the amounts of final reaction product formed compared with incubations with only DAB and cobalt ions. In liver, a blue final reaction product was deposited, particularly in hepatocytes surrounding portal tracts. In the small intestine, the DAB-cobalt complex was mainly found at the basal side of enterocytes. Goblet cells remained unstained. Electron microscopical images revealed that an electron-dense reaction product was exclusively present at both inner and outer membranes and at the intermembrane space in mitochondria of liver parenchymal cells and duodenal enterocytes. It was shown that the spontaneous formation of final reaction product was enzymatic and dependent on the presence of oxygen in the medium. Sulphide decreased the reaction, which may indicate that cytochrome c oxidase was partially involved. Benzoquinone and histidine, which are scavengers of superoxide anions and singlet oxygen respectively, reduced the amount of final reaction product considerably. Furthermore, the formation of final reaction product was sensitive to specific inhibitors of NADH:coenzyme Q reductase and aldehyde oxidase, indicating that these enzymes were at least partly responsible for the generation of superoxide anions and singlet oxygen and for the formation of the DAB-cobalt complex.

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